• Team to form a green space vision for Forres

    by Forres Gazette

    AROUND 25 people have offered to help achieve the ‘green space’ aims of the Forres 2020 Vision.

    Following the inaugural meeting of the Forres Green Spaces User Group at the town hall last week, the volunteers have agreed to progress some of the priorities detailed in the 2020 Vision Action Plan, launched last November.

    These include joint management of local woodland, meadows, fields and orchards with Moray Council.

    Community support officer, Sylvia Jamieson, said: “It will be a pragmatic group, not just a talking shop but one that actively helps progress work by groups in green spaces in Forres.”

    Ms Jamieson and lands and parks officer, Ken Kennedy, confirmed shared goals with the volunteers, and how they can be achieved through partnership working.

    Initially, the attendees were seated in four groups facilitated by council representatives Ms Jamieson, Mr Kennedy, Grant Speed (Lands and Parks) and Emma Gordon (Development Plans).

    They looked at: what Forres already has in terms of green spaces work; what would make things easier for the people working in them; and how this could be achieved.

    The working group was formed afterwards, including representatives from Forres Community CouncilForres Sports HubForres Area Community Trust, the Sanquhar improvement group, Dava Way Association, Castlehill Veg, Forres in BloomForres Rotary Club and Forres Theme Day.

    Ms Jamieson added: “There was recognition of the huge amount of work being done by volunteers already, and the number of events and activities taking place in them.

    “Common themes and ideas for action included recruiting volunteers (particularly younger folk), sharing resources and volunteers, joint funding applications, joint responses to consultations, training opportunities and sharing of information/networking.”

    The next meeting of the Green Spaces User Group will be in March or April.

    New member, Sandra Maclennan of Forres In Bloom said: “It is to be hoped that this will happen soon and momentum can be revitalised.”

    Ms Gordon highlighted the forthcoming drop-in consultation event at Forres Town Hall (Thursday, March 8, 2-8pm) on the Local Development Plan Main Issues Report and the ongoing core paths consultation.

    FACT working on three projects for Forres

    by Forres Gazette

    During January’s meeting of Forres Community Council, Forres Area Community Trust (FACT) officer, Debbie Herron, talked about the campaign to get a local skate park built, plans for a Community Asset Transfer of the Town Hall and the ongoing digital support service, Forres Online.

    She said: “We have been working to get a new skate park since 2012. With support from AJ Engineering, BAM Nuttall and Forres Tesco, we now have a pop-up ramp currently in use at The Loft in Kinloss.”

    Forres Skate Park Initiative outsource the ramp by arrangement. It is hoped to set it up in Tesco car park in the Springtime.

    Debbie added: “We will work with the 2020 Vision green spaces group to find a permanent spot for a skate facility over the next few years. Fundraising will begin in earnest once we have a clear plan agreed.”

    FACT has approached Moray Council about a CAT of Forres Town Hall and carried out costings for major improvements including raised seating similar to that at Nairn Community and Arts Centre.

    Debbie explained: “We want to have have movable raked seating to enable us to use the space as a open hall for dancing, band practice, coffee mornings etc, and to have seating for things like Film Forres, the panto and youth concert. There could be office space at the far end of the building, a studio and multipurpose area, and lifts at both ends. We estimate the upgrade would cost around £3 million in total.”

    Around 4500 people currently use the Town Hall every week. FACT is scoping support for its ideas among the user groups.

    It is hoped financial support could come from local fundraising, online crowd funding and organisations such as Heritage Lottery Fund, Big Lottery Fund and Big Issue Invest.

    Finally, Debbie appealed for volunteers to help the FACT Forres Online scheme which already provides: free access to computers in a safe and encouraging environment; one-to-one development in customer support and engagement skills; and access to online courses to develop skills gained while volunteering.

    She said: “Forres Online has recorded 610 attendances from 185 individuals/groups over the period September, 2016 to November, 2017. These include people over 55, unemployed and benefit claimants, small businesses, community groups, social enterprises, young families, vulnerable adults and refugees.”

    Last year, FACT was awarded £149,427 to develop its volunteer base, as well as a social enterprise centre/hub to facilitate more partnership working in the area.

    “FACT has 250 members and is free to join,” finished Debbie. “We have a strong board and a sustainable business plan. To get involved, please contact 01309 674388 or vemail info@forresarea.org”